LDF govt rejects proposals of Admin Reforms body once headed by VS

LDF govt rejects proposals of Admin Reforms body once headed by VS
V S Achuthanandan

Thiruvananthapuram: The CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala has rejected all recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) to set up a state audit commission having independent powers, even though ARC was headed by veteran CPM leader and former Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan.

Other suggestions of ARC which the present LDF government refused to accept include appointing a senior deputy accountant general with executive powers and publishing all audit reports.

According to the government, instead of these measures, all that needs to be done is strengthening the audit system currently in force.

In January 2021, Achuthanandan, resigned as the Chairman of the Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission citing poor health. He had been holding the post since 2016 soon after the Left Democratic Front government came to power in the state.

The veteran CPM leader had lost out in the chief ministerial race to party colleague Pinarayi Vijayan in 2016. Subsequently, he was accommodated as the chief of the Administrative Reforms Commission.

Now, 99, Achuthanandan has retired from public activities and is confined at home.

No more performance audit

In another significant decision, the government also said that performance audits would no longer be carried out in local bodies.

Incidentally, ARC wanted performance audits to be made more exhaustive and disciplinary action against officials committing lapses. However, a government order (GO) issued by Principal Secretary for General Administration K R Jyothilal – based on a recommendation by a panel led by the Chief Secretary – says that a performance audit is not needed.

More suggestions rejected

The Kerala Cabinet had a couple of weeks ago discussed and rejected a number of other suggestions of ARC also, including recording the liabilities of officials in their service book; stopping regular financial inspections; cessation of inspection by Store Purchase Department at local bodies and formation of district-level audit societies.

ARC had also recommended 'Saankhya' software developed by Information Kerala Mission in all local bodies. However, according to the GO, locally available software is sufficient.

Yet another ARC suggestion rejected by the government says all audit reports, including those prepared by the Accountant General, should be published on the website and an abstract displayed on the notice board.

Main points of GO

Meanwhile, the GO says that during audit, if officials are found to have obtained financial benefits by misuse of their powers, such cases should be handed over to the Vigilance under the Anti-Corruption Law. In addition, the losses caused have to be recovered from the officials concerned. The GO gives necessary instructions in this regard to various departments.

The GO also says a secretary-level panel will be formed to ensure the right of service. "Audit inspections and suggestions have to be practical. It is not necessary to check the attendance of officials as part of an audit as it could be done through punching," it adds.

The GO also wants an e-audit facility in all departments in future. An internal vigilance system has to be set up in all departments and a vigilance officer should be appointed based on a test and competence, the GO states.

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